Initially, the plans called for more than 100 riverfront units with a tiny house section and a river trail on a site adjacent to the Three Rivers Post Office. When there was pushback on wastewater issues, Hitesh and Gautam Patel, a father-and-son developer team from Pleasanton, Calif., came up with an idea to build a wastewater treatment plant.
In February, a group from the Three Rivers Community Services District visited a similar plant — a BioFiltro treatment plant near the Panoche exit on Interstate 5. The plant uses earthworms and microorganisms to remove 99 percent of the contaminants — the water that isn’t potable can be recycled for irrigation.
A BioFiltro plant, representatives of the CSD agreed, is a “go green” fix that could put Three Rivers on the map as an environmentally friendly community — with a hotel or hotels that recycle gray water.
The site tour of the plant three months ago was during the same time when the Patels had tendered an offer to purchase the Comfort Inn. A BioFiltro plant could solve the decades-old wastewater disposal issues on that site too.
According to Mike Washam, assistant planning director and head of economic development, the County of Tulare would be willing to offer tax incentives to help build the wastewater treatment plant.
Gautam said the offer to purchase the Comfort Inn was more than generous but fell out of escrow when the current owners countered, asking for an increase in the purchase price.
“The last three months have been spent trying to purchase the Comfort Inn and figuring out how to redo the septic system,” Patel said. “We think the best long-term solution is a joint system with the Comfort Inn and the new hotel.”
Gautam said he and his father really like Three Rivers and are committed to doing a project here. To do what’s best for all parties, Patel said, is going to take more time than anyone could have predicted.